In conversation with a shy Trump voter
It's always a joy to reconnect with former colleagues and reminisce about the "good times," especially during the smothering lockdowns. Copious memories were instantly refreshed as my former work colleague's name appeared "calling" on my phone.
I have lived in India for most of my life, while she has lived in the U.S. But high-speed internet enabled us to work on many projects at a software firm with branches located in our respective countries. We became friendly owing to our mutual fondness for noir cinema, Sir Roger Moore's portrayal of 007, and U.S. politics.
A fervent Democrat, she voted for Obama twice and even traveled to Washington for his inaugurations. She ardently campaigned for Hillary Clinton and was devastated when Hillary lost.
She thought Trump's "abominable lack of restraint" made him a force of chaos. Trump's "vile" tweets didn't curb her fears. When I predicted a Trump victory in August 2015, she prayed I would be wrong.
We talked about former colleagues, COVID-19, movies, finally presidential elections. Here is an approximation of how our actual conversation went as I remember it.
"Are you excited about Joe?" I asked.
"They tell me I should be," she said.
"I expected an unequivocal and prompt 'yes,'" said I.
"Much water has flowed under the bridge," she said, sounding sullen.
For me, this was nothing short of an astounding "breaking news" moment.
"What happened?" I inquired.
"You can't breathe a word about this to our U.S. folks," she said.
"I solemnly swear to secrecy," said I.
"I live in a state overseen by Democrats. My governor, senator, and representative are Democrats," she said.
"Left-wing loons?" I asked.
"That ceases to be an overstatement. When George Floyd was killed, I was gutted. Nobody deserves to die like that. I marched in a peaceful protest, not because I'm African-American, but because it was the humane thing to do," she said.
"The reverberations of the Floyd killing were heard all over the world, even here in India," I said.
"Right! The movement began with calls for police reforms, something I support. I was disturbed when they demanded to defund the police. Calls for more improvements are always welcome, but to abolish the police is preposterous. Who was making these ludicrous demands? The Democrats," she said.
There was a time when she always referred to them as "my dear Democrats."
"My cousin is a policeman. I know of the lives the police save, from arresting drug-peddlers to rescuing battered housewives. They are deterrents and protectors of society. There will be the occasional rogue cop, but generally, they are a boon, especially in impoverished neighborhoods," she said
"When I was young, the police were usually scary people whom you feared. These days, I see policemen joking around with kids, giving talks at schools. Times have changed. They undergo lots of sensitive training. I've seen the impact that the training has had on my cousin; he is much kinder and gentler since joining the force. Do you know the 'protesters' called him a traitor because he is a black policeman?" she said.
"The protests devolved into riots. I feared for my safety. Many shops near my home were vandalized and looted. The purveyors of some establishments, most of whom are black, were attacked. The damage they did to the infrastructure will take years to fix. But not a syllable of condemnation from the Democrats. In fact, they supported it, calling it peaceful. Never before have I witnessed anything this disgraceful," she said.
"The news media are sympathetic to the 'protesters.' They refused to acknowledge that anything wrong had occurred even when rioters stormed their studios. The only ones condemning this were President Trump, Republicans, Fox News pundits, and conservatives commentators. Never did I think I would gravitate toward this group," she said.
"Life's full of surprises," I said, attempting to lighten the mood.
"Only when Trump deployed federal forces in another state did our authorities wake up. But their reaction was perfunctory and delayed. There was nothing more left to destroy. The Democrats failed to protect us and our property, which is the primary function of government," she said.
"During the pandemic, the Democrats behaved like tyrants as they shut down businesses. People were denied their right to earn a living, despite promising to wear masks and be socially distant. Many businesses couldn't sustain the losses and shut down. The goal clearly was to undo the economic progress and hurt Trump's re-election prospects. We supporters are collateral damage in the quest for power," she said.
"The Democrats were not concerned about COVID-19 when demonstrators marched closely in groups. I read about Democrat leaders living without any restrictions privately, ordering the opening of salons when needed. The restrictions are only for regular citizens," she said.
"Blatant hypocrisy," I said.
"Biden says those having a hard time 'figuring out' whether to support him or Trump means they 'ain't black' made me angry. I have long suspected this, but it became clear the Democrats have taken African-Americans for granted. They just don't say it out loud like Biden," she said.
"I began to study President Trump's record objectively. The undeniable facts are, he built a strong economy. My acquaintances who previously struggled to earn a decent living now have full-time jobs because of this growth. My friends who run a small businesses are doing extremely well. I realized that Trump has empowered minorities economically like no other president. Trump is also among the few insisting that we reopen." she said.
"Trump is the only modern president who has not caused new wars. He has actually led peace treaties in the Middle East. He fervently supports the police. He values tradition and faith. He is taking on China. I do not always like his style, I'm beginning to get his humor though. But on substance, he is a huge success. Why should I not vote for him?" she asked.
I was taken aback and almost rendered speechless.
"It is not just me, my friends and relatives are all for Trump. But we are not doing a song and dance about it. Some among us have a 'Biden-Harris' banners outside our houses. They attend anti-Trump protests and joke about later. I see myriad similar disgruntled Democrats on social media. We feel like a secret society" said she.
"America is one of the greatest democracies in the world, but the left has curbed your freedom of expression. Ironically they claim to be saving democracy," I said.
"People being targeted and brutalized for supporting Trump. You can even lose your job for a social media post. The leaders of this detestable practice of 'canceling' non-conformists are Democrats. So no MAGA hats for me any time soon," she said.
"Very wise," I said, laughter making a remarkable comeback.
"What do the Democrats stand for today? High taxes, the Green New Deal, appeasement without the empowerment of minorities, defunding the police, hatred for tradition, disdain for regular folks, citizenship, and benefits for illegal aliens, conformism, cancel culture, and faux political correctness. I'm not only voting for Trump, but I'm going to quit the party soon," she replied.